Parashat Behaalot’ha (When You Kindle)
Bamidbar (Numbers) 8:1–12:6
Haftarah: Zechariah 2:10-4:7 (2:14 in the Hebrew Bible)
In this week’s Parashah, we read an amazing and dramatic description of when God’s presence came to dwell among His people:
Now on the day that the tabernacle was erected, the cloud covered the tabernacle, the tent of the testimony, and in the evening it was like the appearance of fire over the tabernacle until morning. That is how it was continuously; the cloud would cover it by day, and the appearance of fire by night. Whenever the cloud was lifted from over the tent, afterward the sons of Israel would set out; and in the place where the cloud settled down, there the sons of Israel would camp. At the command of the Lord the sons of Israel would set out, and at the command of the LORD they would camp; as long as the cloud settled over the tabernacle, they remained camped. Even when the cloud lingered over the tabernacle for many days, the sons of Israel would comply with the LORD’s ordinance and not set out. If sometimes the cloud remained a few days over the tabernacle, in accordance with the command of the LORD they remained camped. Then in accordance with the command of the LORD they set out. If sometimes the cloud remained from evening until morning, when the cloud was lifted in the morning they would set out; or if it remained in the daytime and at night, whenever the cloud was lifted, they would set out. Whether it was two days, a month, or a year that the cloud lingered over the tabernacle, staying above it, the sons of Israel remained camped and did not set out; but when it was lifted, they did set out. At the command of the LORD they camped, and at the command of the LORD they set out; they did what the LORD required, in accordance with the command of the LORD through Moses.
- Majesty: We cannot imagine the majesty of that moment when the cloud would cover the Tabernacle as well as the appearance of fire. This display most likely brought fear and deep respect of God into the camp.
- God’s perfect timing: It was in accordance to God’s time that the people would continue on their journey.
- Following God: It is very important to note that the people did exactly what was instructed to them, and that they continued their journey according to God’s instruction. They did not decide for themselves when it was time to move on, but instead relied on God’s presence to guide them.
- The patience: The people had to follow the LORD’s leading, which required a good deal of patience and waiting on Him. They did not know when He would move them forward, and as we read, at times, it required many long days of waiting.
- Trust: The people needed to always trust God and rely on Him.
There is a wealth of treasure that we can glean here! First, it strikes me that such a majestic God would choose to reconcile us to Himself out of love, and a desire to fellowship with us. Second, as we choose to follow Him, we need to trust that His timing and plan are always best. We may not see it while we are going through various difficulties, but we can patiently wait on Him with hope and faith that He is faithful. Finally, we need to guard that which He entrusted us to as we are His ambassadors here on this earth. I love the fact that the “tent of the testimony” is mentioned in the above verses in connection to God’s dwelling place; our testimony reflects the fact that His Spirit dwells within us.
The Haftarah speaks of a time when God will come and dwell among us:
“Shout for joy and rejoice, daughter of Zion; for behold I am coming and I will dwell in your midst,” declares the LORD. “And many nations will join themselves to the Lord on that day and will become My people. Then I will dwell in your midst, and you will know that the LORD of armies has sent Me to you.”
Zechariah 2:10–11 (English Bible)
It is important for us to understand that Yeshua, the Word that became flesh and dwelled among us according to John 1:14, is and will be the fulfillment of this promise from Zechariah. I also believe that just like the people of Israel had certain responsibilities to be a testimony of God, so do we, His followers.
Let’s be good stewards of that which He entrusted to us, so that through His testimony in our lives, others will know of His majesty and come to know Him personally.
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